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Judge throws out L.A. jury verdict awarding millions to Dole workers

A judge threw out a multimillion-dollar award Thursday granted by an L.A. jury to six Nicaraguan men in a lawsuit against food giant Dole, finding that fraud by American and Nicaraguan attorneys had tainted the trial.

California 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Victoria G. Chaney issued the ruling after presiding over the original six-month trial, which resulted in a $2.3-million verdict against Dole.

Tellez vs. Dole Food Co. marked the first case tried in the U.S. over injuries dating from the 1970s allegedly caused by the chemical dibromochloropropane, or DBCP, which Dole continued to apply in Central America after it was banned in the U.S. over concerns that it caused sterility.

Chaney’s ruling was highly awaited in Nicaragua, where tens of thousands have claimed various medical conditions resulting from Dole’s practices, and the case of the banana workers has been transformed into something of a political movement.

Chaney made sweeping findings in April 2009 -- two years after the original verdict was handed down -- that a second batch of cases had been based on an elaborate international scheme by plaintiffs' attorneys who tried to recruit fake banana workers, manipulate medical test results and defraud the American court system.

Her ruling was based largely on testimony by 27 secret witnesses. After Chaney dismissed those pending cases, Dole asked the court of appeal to dismiss the Tellez verdict.

The appellate court ordered plaintiffs to prove their case was not based on fraud. In hearings over five days in June and July, attorneys on both sides exchanged accusations of fraud, forgery, bribery, corruption and everything in between.

An attorney representing the six men alleged that Dole had gotten the witnesses to testify to the purported fraud by giving them lavish treatment and cash payments inconceivable in the poor Central American country.

A throng of attorneys representing Dole contended that the Nicaraguan men were "foot soldiers" taking part in a fraudulent scheme.

-- Victoria Kim

Comments () | Archives (7)

Let those Nicaraguan attorneys move to Sanctuary state California. Surprised they got slammed by the court. Why shoudl breaking a law keep you from steallin gmoney from Dole? I thought, to qoute Whoopi, it wasn't "fraud-fraud"...

Shocking that a megacorporation would win this case in the end. Dole is the largest company of its kind in the world - though the amount they were going to pay was laughably small to them, they could not afford to pay it because of the precedent it would set.

Just yesterday the LATimes reported that Chevron was trying to get a documentarian to hand over footage in a similar case to this one. The big companies will go to any lengths to protect their interests no matter what the cost.

Score Card in America
Corporations: 1,573,102,133,677 Citizens: 0

Sounds like quite a sham. They should sue in a more crooked place like Venezuela. They would have an easier time selling their false accusations...

What is the name of the law firm that represented Dole? Good job!!! You hung in there to give your client outstanding representation.

So howcum we don't get to see the names of the plaintiffs' attorneys and their firms? If they actually may have committed fraud, shouldn't their names be mentioned alongside Dole's? Obviously The Times doesn't think we're entitled to know.

Wonderful news! It seems like the USA is a very good place to always sue someone as in their countries this could never happen place.....


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